These days, it’s rare for Beyoncé’s “Beyhive” to hear much from their queen. So when she decides to head out on the road, you can count on ride-or-die fans to flock to her. This was especially true on the final night of the star’s weekend at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Not only does her “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR” assemble the best of her extensive catalog, but the show triumphantly creates an inclusive and celebratory environment.
The “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR” comes at an exciting time in the superstar’s career. Her best-selling girl group, Destiny’s Child, debuted more than 25 years ago. Since then, she’s worked tirelessly to cement herself as a permanent fixture in popular music. Now that she has long since achieved icon status, Beyoncé has finally allowed herself to “release the wiggle,” enjoying every moment with her fans after several years off the road.
The July 23 crowd showed out in the finest of metallic tops, disco-ified cowboy hats and chrome accessories. After keeping fans anxiously awaiting her entrance for more than an hour past the anticipated start time, Beyoncé rose centerstage. In a stunning light teal mini dress, she opened the show with “Dangerously In Love.” The song has not had a regular spot on her concert setlists since 2009, so the performance was a miraculous moment for longtime fans. With no opening act prior to her arrival, Beyoncé essentially “opened” for herself.
As the first act came to a close, the 60,000+ attendees were eager to kick things into high gear. In an homage to her 2007 tour “The Beyoncé Experience,” Beyoncé emerged atop a stand with a chrome robot-like encasing her. After the circular center of the onstage screen moved aside, Beyoncé escapes the metallic casing, debuting a chrome Lanvin bodysuit for the Sunday crowd. She began the main show with the first three “RENAISSANCE” tracks, adding instrumentals and ad-libs to the already show-stopping songs.
The production of this show is undoubtedly the greatest in her touring roster. The most jaw-dropping moments include perfectly-in-sync dancing with two robot arms during “COZY,” emerging out of a bedazzled clam shell for “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA,” and having her dress change colors in front of the audience’s eyes as UV lights scan her up and down before “CHURCH GIRL.” It’s impossible to forget the 60-foot-tall inflatable disco horse on stage for “BREAK MY SOUL.” Whether futuristic or retro, the countless captivating details put into the moving parts of the set bring each song to life.
The main show followed the “RENAISSANCE” track list in order, diverting every so often for older hits. One highlight featured a high-octane mashup of “Formation,” “Diva” and “Run The World (Girls).” One of the most memorable moments came as Beyoncé’s 11-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, joined her onstage to perform “MY POWER,” prompting some of the loudest cheers of the night.
In the midst of the unstoppable “ALIEN SUPERSTAR,” Beyoncé’s 2009 single “Sweet Dreams” began to echo through the speakers, prompting a collective surge of screams. The singer’s use of older songs continued throughout the night, making clear that she knows exactly what her fans want and exactly how to incorporate that into her show. The list of samples goes on — “End of Time,” “Speechless,” “Cater 2 U,” “Say My Name,” “Signs,” “Ghost,” “Blow.” One deep cut that earned a well-deserved spotlight was “Rather Die Young.” The inclusion of the underrated 2011 track was another surprising treat for longtime fans.
Of the “RENAISSANCE” tracks, “HEATED” and “PURE/HONEY” in particular delivered on all expectations. Performing alone onstage, Beyoncé waged a rap battle with her audience during the outro of “HEATED.” Dripping in the glitz of a Loewe catsuit, Beyoncé ran to the end of the stage, chanting in unison with her “Beyhive.” The performance was among the most anticipated experiences live in concert, and the crowd savored every moment. For “PURE/HONEY,” she sported an already iconic Mugler bee costume and cleverly incorporated “Blow” into the last half of the song.
Keeping in theme with the diverse set of voices found on “RENAISSANCE,” Philadelphia ballroom star, Kevin JZ Prodigy, served as a secondary narrator for the show. Prodigy lends his voice to several video interludes and actual performances throughout the show. This, coupled with Beyoncé’s diverse troupe of backup dancers, made for an especially inclusive environment onstage and in the crowd. Different races, body types, gender expressions, and personalities encompassed her dancers and band — all of whom she graciously granted time to shine throughout the show. At the end of “PURE/HONEY,” Beyoncé exited the stage, leaving her dancers to perform a freestyle vogue runway for all 60,000+ attendees to see. To step aside and turn the focus to the dancers was a gracious act that was undoubtedly appreciated by not only the dancers, but by the audience as well.
The most noticeable difference between tours past and this one was Beyoncé’s light-hearted nature. She repeatedly thanked her audience throughout the show for allowing her the opportunity to perform. Her gratitude was further demonstrated through her countless interactions with her audience — shown through smiles exchanged with audience members and reading out fan’s homemade signs. On previous tours, it’d be rare to catch her breaking focus to chat with fans and interact with them so frequently. But this show seemed to allow her to relax and enjoy every second, even sharing laughswith nearby fans after an onstage mistake. Her willingness to joke around and share moments with fans let everyone in the crowd feel a little closer to the human behind the megastar. Beyoncé just wanted us to “release the love, forget the rest” along with her during the two-and-a-half-hour show.